These used performance cars may not be legends of zero-maintenance reliability, but they're far more engaging than any economy commuter, and buying one won't break the bank.
BMW neutered the E36-generation M3 for America, meaning it wasn't quite as powerful as the version sold in Europe. Prices have started to rise recently (it's now a vintage M car, after all), but good-running examples can still be found for under five figures.
If you're looking for all-weather performance, it's hard to beat the WRX. It's been for sale in America for nearly 20 years, which means older used examples are extremely affordable. Just make sure to read up on common problems before pulling the trigger. is for sale on eBay now.
The Civic Si is the ultimate blend of usability, affordability, and fun. Mid-2000s hatchback models like the one shown above are easy to find under the $10,000 mark, and make for truly great all-rounders. has some mods, and it can be yours today.
The mid-2000s GTO is great for a muscle car lover on a budget. If you can put up with the subtle looks, early LS1-powered examples can be found for under 10 grand.
Want a cheap two-seater roadster, but don't want a Miata? The Z3 is the car for you. It'll deliver a similar top-down experience with luxury the Mazda could never offer. painted in a lovely shade of green that you can own now.
Used examples of the first-gen Mazdaspeed 3 can be reliably found , and now, even some higher-mileage second-gen models are starting to reach that price as well.
Sure, the C4 generation may not be everyone's favorite Corvette, but you have to admit: It's a great value. For under $10,000, you get rad '80s looks, a V-8 sending power to the rear wheels, and those cool flip-up headlights. can be yours for just $8000.
If you just aren't into the C4, high-mileage examples of the C5 are starting to dip under $10,000. Keep in mind, though, you might not be getting the cleanest one around. Still, it's a wonderful track car out of the box, so you can't really go wrong. you can own right now.
Both Mk IV and Mk V versions of the range-topping Golf R32 are currently hovering around the $10,000 mark—though when it comes to the Mk IV version, there's a chance it could turn into an outright collectable worth holding onto.
Though it may not be as engaging as a Miata, the RX-8 still makes for a compelling package. The main highlight is that rotary engine—you can't get it in anything else from the 21st century for these kinds of prices. is listed for just $7900 right now.
The Fiesta ST is now four years old, meaning used examples are starting to dip below the five-figure mark. It's one of the best modern hot hatches we've driven, which is saying something. on sale for $9000 online.
The 500 Abarth can still be bought new at Fiat showrooms today, but early examples have depreciated well under the $10,000 mark. The Abarth is a smile-inducing city-friendly hot hatch that came from the factory without a muffler, and it's tons of fun to drive. .
The first-gen Boxster's styling is starting to look a little passé, and because of that, they're shockingly affordable. For under 10 grand, you can get a mid-engine convertible sports car built by Porsche with a manual transmission and a naturally aspirated flat-six engine—the classic formula. is for sale for just $6000.
When it comes to cheap mid-engine performance, look no further than the Toyota MR2. Used examples from any generation can often be found for under five figures, so you can choose which generation is right for your needs. is on eBay for just $8000.
Most people will see a handsome luxury sedan, but what they might not detect is the hammer under the hood. The B6 S4 packs a 4.2-liter, 40-valve V-8 making 339 horses in stock form, with Audi's legendary dynamics and Quattro all-wheel drive, .
No one's going to argue that the M5 version wasn't a better driver's car, but the 540i is the E39 you want to own. And even though it doesn't have 400 horsepower, the 540i's low-end torque will keep you plenty entertained. for just under $6000.
If your idea of having fun is going fast in a straight line, you're going to have a hard time beating the Chevrolet Camaro's bang for the buck. up for sale on eBay.
The Dodge Neon is cute and generally competent, but the turbocharged SRT-4 version is viciously quick. Just be careful of buying someone's heavily modified project. And look out for torque steer. looks clean, and you can own it today.
Any G35 coupe you find is going to be at least 10 years old, but the design still looks great, even today. They're fun, surprisingly quick, and a great deal. .
If you're considering a used BMW 3-Series but you value reliability, look no further than the first-generation Lexus IS. The IS300 only had 215 horsepower, but its excellent handling and handsome design make up for it. for sale right now for under $6000.
Looking at the Mitsubishi lineup today, it's hard to imagine that the company behind today's Mirage used to build a world-class sports car. But at the time, the 3000GT was exactly that. Some models are steadily increasing in value, so get one cheaply while you still can. .
Before the Nissan 350Z and 370Z, there was the 300ZX. It's a screaming deal for anyone looking to get their hands on a rear-drive Japanese sports car, and if you can find a Twin Turbo coupe in good condition, you'll have one of the darlings of 1990s import performance. for sale on eBay right now.
Used 911 prices have skyrocketed, but if you're on a budget, you can still buy a Porsche. The 944 might not be the most beloved model, but it's still a great performer for your money. is totally stock, and you can own it.
If you want a performance car but still need something practical, the Volvo V70 R is a great solution. It's a station wagon with nearly 300 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and an available manual transmission. What more could you want? you can own for a bit under $10,000 right now.